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November Coin of the Month

Mount Rushmore National Memorial Quarter

How cool is that design—a man standing on Thomas Jefferson's cheek!  Makes you wonder:  As big as Mount Rushmore is, how long did it take to carve?  How many people took part?  Were they all artists?  Did they use chisels and hammers? 

How do you even begin to carve a 5,725-foot tall mountain?  Well, I've discovered that it's not a weekend project...which is probably why people don't go around carving mountains all over the place.  It took planning, time, money, manpower, legislation...lots of resources and determination. 

In the planning stage, before work began, the sculptor studied the presidents' faces.  Sketches were followed by clay models that workers used as guides. 

Rather than artists, the 400-plus workers were mostly explosives expert, who worked with dynamite and pneumatic drills and hammers instead of chisels.  By using a ratio system with the smaller models, they were able to figure out how much rock to remove and where. 

Altogether, the project took almost two decades.  South Dakota's state historian thought of the idea in 1923 (though in a very different form), and the last day of drilling was in October 1941. 

Will this great monument last forever?  It might seem that way to us, but even granite can wear away over time.  The mountain is in fact eroding, but very slowly.  It will only lose an inch from its surface every 10,000 years.  And thanks to National Park Service staff, who inspect and patch the granite every year just before winter, this national treasure is likely to inspire many, many more generations to come.

Read more on Rushmore on the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Quarter page!

—Nero

Nero, the Mint Police Dog

Teacher Feature

Reverse of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial quarter.
Reverse:  Workers put finishing touches on the sculpture of Thomas Jefferson's face as George Washington waits patiently beside him.

Front of the quarter.
Obverse:  George Washington's profile is surrounded by the inscriptions "United States of America," "Liberty," "In God We Trust," a mint mark, and "Quarter Dollar."



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